Experiences Make Midtown Atlanta’s Retail Future Bright – SaportaReport

By Shirley Gouffon, Senior Vice President, Selig Enterprises and Midtown Development Review Board Member

Restaurants and retailers have evolved over the past few years, but the pace of evolution has been decidedly robust since and during the recent COVID pandemic. There are a few “silver linings” to be found in the pandemic, not the least of which is the transformation of the retail experience, especially in Midtown, Atlanta.

For the past decade, at the touch of a button, the consumer has had many options, both for consumables and for disposable products. Restaurants, in particular, have pivoted during the pandemic, and many Midtown dining establishments have implemented take-out and delivery programs that previously weren’t widely used, if at all. Delivery and curbside pickup are here to stay, however, it’s worth noting that the desire for in-store retail experiences is on the rise with over 50% of Millennials saying a large portion of their expenditure is devoted to do the experience related products and services. Midtown Atlanta is a wonderful example of an urban environment that has been thoughtfully planned to attract “feet to the street” with its expansive sidewalks, lush landscaping, and accessible storefronts.

In addition, experiential retail becoming increasingly relevant in today’s consumer market. Creating a memorable shopping or dining experience through customer engagement is key. Many brands with “flags” in the city center have successfully transformed their businesses by offering “retailtainment” experiences and immersive retail and dining experiences.

Cafe Intermezzo, the European-inspired cafe located in the heart of Midtown at Peachtree and 11e Streets, has long been considered an industry leader in creating authentic and memorable experiences for its customers. Brian Olson, CEO and Founder of Café Intermezzo, is considered an industry pioneer and was truly at the forefront of experiential retail for nearly 30 years. The Café Intermezzo experience transports the customer to a beautiful café in Europe as soon as they enter. This experience was executed with care thanks to Brian’s careful choice of decor, music, food presentation (a la “dessert tour”) and even broadcasts of foreign language instructional tapes. This time-tested formula has drawn the customer to Café Intermezzo for decades and is a shining example of the experiential retail phenomenon.

Whether you are a resident, visitor or tourist, you have access to a multitude of memorable experiences unique to Midtown. An afternoon spent in Midtown today within a one-block radius may include:

  • A leisurely walk down a beautiful tree-lined street, lush with window boxes full of vibrant cascading flowers, ripe with “Instagrammable” moments!
  • stop in dry bar for a brushing while sipping a very fresh Rose’, followed by a gourmet and relaxing manicure/pedicure at Beautify the next door.
  • A tour of history Margaret Mitchell House followed by a mid-afternoon stroll and people-watching Coffee Interludes perch along Peachtree Street.
  • Finally, ending the day, as the sun goes down, at the top Bulla Gastrobar’s scenic patio overlooking vibrant Midtown Crescent Avenue while feasting on a delicious array of tapas and sipping refreshing Sangria.

We are all, at heart, social beings. And it is through Midtown’s commitment to promoting the pedestrian experience that the area will continue to thrive as Atlanta’s premier pedestrian experiential destination.

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